Supplementing with EFAs

Just like humans, animals require a nutritious diet to keep wholesome and prevent illness. It should come as no surprise that nutritional therapy that prioritizes vitamin supplementation has been effective at treating and curing disease. Essential nutrients must be obtained through diet because typical metabolic processes are unable to create them. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), formerly known as vitamin F, are among the nutrients we know to be significant.

Burr and Burr found that animals deficient in certain fats, later known as EFAs, experienced growth retardation, skin sores, organ failure, decreased fertility, as well as a variety of other problems that finally resulted in death. This was the first proof that experimental animals were lacking in EFAs. Since then, research has focused on the physiological role of fatty acids, the reasons why certain fatty acids are essential, and the potential benefits of fatty acid supplementation for promoting health and reducing disease.

EFAs function as structural components of the cell membranes, supporting the correct structure and function of all cells. They also act as a substrate for the enzymes lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, which convert eicosanoids from fatty acids into eicosanoid molecules. Eicosanoids are hormone-like compounds that are vital for maintaining good health in people. They control a variety of metabolic functions, such as blood clotting, inflammation, blood pressure, vasoconstriction and vasodilation, and immune response. According to a recent study from the previous 10 years, EFAs can control gene regulation and cell communication, which in turn controls all cellular activities from hormone production to cell formation and division. Therefore, supplementing with EFAs may provide a means of both illness prevention and disease treatment by controlling the "on-off switch" of the disease.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is one of the key fatty acids found in vegetable oils like corn, sunflower, and safflower oils. Flaxseed, flax, and perilla oils, as well as smaller amounts of other oils including canola and hemp, all contain significant amounts of ALA. The most widely used GLA sources are black currant, evening primrose, and borage seeds. Borage oil has the highest content of GLA (20-25%), whereas black currant oil and evening primrose oil have lower levels (8-10% and 14-17%, respectively). EPA and DHA are found in fish and fish oil.

Significant study has been done on EFA-rich oils as therapeutic agents in animals for improving skin and coat health, treating dermatological issues, reducing joint and skin inflammation, and managing diseases including diabetes and obesity. The specific EFA and their relative ratio have an impact on how effective they are as therapeutic agents.

The Role of Essential Fatty Acids in Skin and Dermatological Disease
Domestic animals like cats and dogs frequently get cutaneous (skin) ailments as a result of aberrant EFA levels. The efficacy of EFA supplementation to lessen epidermal proliferation, cutaneous inflammation, atopic dermatitis, and other skin diseases has been well studied in cats and dogs. These studies further highlight the structure and barrier function of EFAs in the skin. Similar outcomes are anticipated even though a large number of additional animal species have not yet been thoroughly studied.

The enzyme delta-6-desaturase (D6D), which may be completely inactive or have very low activity, is necessary for the conversion of LA to GLA and ALA to stearidonic acid, which results in EPA and DHA. This enzyme and its activity appear to be essentially nonexistent in cats. The fatty acids GLA and EPA that cats need for the health of their skin and coat must be either primarily from food sources or wholly from other sources. Cats' growth has been slowed, and their skin and coat are in poor condition as a result of diets that only include LA and no longer chain omega-6 fatty acids.

Treatment with evening primrose oil has been shown to significantly reduce and/or eliminate feline miliary (crusting) dermatitis, which is associated with an aberrant EFA status. Both by itself and in conjunction with fish oil, this remedy is efficient. Cats with feline papulocrustous dermatitis have also been proven to benefit from evening primrose oil.

Topical use of sunflower oil, which contains high levels of LA, and borage oil, which has high levels of GLA, has been shown to reverse elevated transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which has been linked to disorders including pruritis and seborrhea in animals.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been used in canine and feline therapy to treat a variety of inflammatory skin disorders. EFA supplementation can lessen an animal's demand for steroids if it has atopy.

Supplements may be helpful for lowering allergy inflammation because flaxseed and fish oil both reduce the skin's inflammatory reaction to histamine. As evidenced by a decline in the number of positive reactions, the mean histamine level, and the wheal width, EFA supplementation can lessen the intradermal test responsiveness to allergens in dogs. According to studies on dogs with atopic dermatitis, EFA supplementation improves clinical symptoms and pruritus control when combined with medications like hydrazine and chlorpheniramine.

GLA, EPA, and DHA can undoubtedly enhance an animal's skin and coat conditions as well as their overall dermatological health. These nutrients have also been shown to be therapeutically advantageous for symptoms like itch, scaling, erythema, self-trauma, dryness, and alopecia.

Good Fats and Musculoskeletal Conditions
Animals with arthritic conditions benefit from EFA supplementation similarly to how people do. Osteochondrosis, a set of osteoarticular illnesses brought on by ossification in the developing animal and affecting large breed animals like the Labrador and the German Shepherd, has been linked to a lack in omega-3 fatty acids. EFA supplementation may be beneficial. Inflammatory bowel illness in dogs, cats, and other animals may benefit from EFA supplementation.

Growth and Reproduction
The significance of these compounds for felines is shown by the aberrant growth and metabolic rates shown in kittens fed diets lacking in GLA and EPA, two fatty acids synthesized through delta-6-desaturation.

Omega-3 fatty acid intake during pregnancy may be insufficient, according to animal studies that show essential fatty acids of the omega-3 and omega-6 series, as well as their eicosanoid metabolites, play significant and variable roles in gestational length and parturition. The parturition process and connective tissue remodelling linked to cervical maturation and membrane rupture are both aided by prostaglandins (PGs) of the 2-series. Inducible cyclooxygenase expression and PG synthesis in the reproductive organs are both lowered after preterm delivery. By taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements, you may be able to drastically lower the number of preterm births and the heavier babies born as a result of longer gestation periods. Docosahexaenoic acid, a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, may help to extend the gestational period in some high-risk pregnancies.

Feed Efficiency and Addition of EFAs into the Food Supply
An EFA deficiency may affect the effectiveness of feed and animal output. GLA-supplemented dairy cow diets result in milk with a slightly higher milk output as well as milk with a higher fat content. Another biologically active supplement that may offer numerous health advantages is GLA, which is added to dairy cow diet. Perhaps the obtained milk is more akin to GLA-rich human milk.

Additionally, domesticated animals like chickens have had their diets supplemented with essential fatty acids like GLA and DHA. It would be advantageous if this increased egg size, quality, or EFA content. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to improve cardiovascular health by reducing atherogenesis and blood platelet aggregation in addition to their beneficial effects. Most research on omega-3-enriched eggs demonstrates that three of them provide around the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as one serving of fish.

Cancer and Essential Fatty Acids
The effects of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids on cancer and cachexia have been the subject of recent research. In particular, it has been demonstrated that they halt the growth and spread of cancer. One of the cancer kinds that has been researched in dogs is lymphoma.

Cardiovascular Disease and Essential Fatty Acids
Fish oil has been shown to reduce the size of myocardial infarcts in ischemia and reperfusion models and to offer protection against ischemia-induced fatal ventricular arrhythmias in models of sudden cardiac death, suggesting that it may be an effective non-drug treatment for canines and felines with congestive heart failure.

Other Conditions
It has been demonstrated that EFA supplementation can alleviate the signs of canine symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy, including onycholysis, onychomadesis, onychalgia, and onychodystrophy.

It has been proven that consuming fish oil can help prairie dogs avoid developing gallstones and cholesterol crystals.

Similar to how it does in people, administering specific EFAs may help manage a variety of disorders like diabetes, obesity, and immune system dysfunction.

A deficiency in essential fatty acids may occur in animals given dry rations, commercial food that has been badly kept because of storage, temperature, or preservative problems, or homemade food. Animals fed dry rations, commercial food that hasn't been properly stored due to storage, temperature, or preservative difficulties, or homemade food may all experience an essential fatty acid shortfall. Deficiencies can be brought on by a meal's low fat content, rancidity of the fat, or lack of antioxidants like vitamin E. EFA shortage can also be caused by illnesses that affect an animal's capacity to absorb or metabolize dietary lipids. Skin issues are one of the more prevalent deficiency symptoms that develop over time.

Eating essential fatty acids is known to be beneficial for both human and animal health. A variety of inflammatory and skin ailments, cardiovascular issues, mental health issues, cancer, and a plethora of other diseases and conditions have all been linked to atypical EFA status and a shortage in particular fatty acids, including GLA, ALA, EPA, and DHA. It is constantly being researched how beneficial supplements can be for maintaining health as well as for preventing and treating disease.

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